So, it’s officially the end of the regular season, and, as has been the case for quite a while, it is the end of the Reds’ season. So, I’ve decided to write the first of two entries that will only be of interest to me dissecting what I would like to see the Reds do in the off season so that next year might not be quite so grim. Today, we are going to cover pitching.

Note: The primary stat I am going to use is called ERA+. All you need to know about it is that it is prorated so that 100 is average. So, a pitcher with and ERA+ of 110 is roughly 10% better than a league average pitcher. You get the idea.

Rotation:

To start off, let’s look at the Reds top four starting pitchers this year with their ERA+ values.

Edinson Volquez 140
Bronson Arroyo 95
Aaron Harang 94
Johnny Cueto 94

The first thing you’ll notice is that this was not a disastrous year for Reds starters. Volquez was fantastic, ranking among the leaders in virtually every important and unimportant pitching stat. Arroyo, Harang, and Cueto were all below average, but only slightly so. More on these four later. For now let’s look at the ERA+ for the handful of pitchers that traded off the fifth spot for the Reds this year along with the number of starts they made.

Player GS ERA+
Josh Fogg 14 59
Homer Bailey 8 57
Matt Beslisle 6 62
Ramon Ramirez 4 169
Daryl Thompson 3 65

Looking at that information, the first thing you probably notice is that Daryl Thompson’s parents aren’t very good at spelling. The second thing you probably notice is that, aside from a handful of good starts by Ramirez, the Reds fifth starters were TERRIBLE.

Okay, so we’ve established what the Reds had this year, now let’s look at what they SHOULD do for next year. Starting at the top.

1. Volquez – He was excellent just a small hiccup after the all-star break. Keep giving him the ball every five days and hope he’s somewhere close to the player he was this year.

2. Bronson Arroyo – This was an off year for Bronson. His career ERA+ is 108, which puts him at slightly above average, and a solid number 3 starter. Keep giving him the ball every five days and things should be a-okay.

3. Aaron Harang – He was the Reds’ number 1 starter coming into this year, and had his worst year since 2004. He was derailed by a Dusty Baker attempt to destroy his arm with four innnings of relief work in an extra inning game between starts. This lead to a run of terrible starts and a trip to disabled list. He seemed to bounce back at the end of the year. So, as long as he doesn’t feel any lasting effects from that missuse, he should easily bounce back and be the fantastic pitcher we all know and love. If he does feel the effects, it will be a long year for the Reds.

4. Johnny Cueto – Johnny Cueto was a rookie. He has fantastic stuff. You do not complain when a rookie pitcher strikes out 158 in 174 innings. You keep him on your team for next year and assume he will get better which is what most every person in a position to know thinks should happen.

Now, at this point I am going to pause and point out that without any real luck at all. That is, even if nothing spectacular happens to any of these guys, no unexpectedly great seasons or anything, the Reds should have four above average to excellent starters next year. This is nice. This is very nice. This makes me feel good inside.

5. Mess – Josh Fogg is gone. I do not ever want to hear his name again. Matt Belisle, well, sorry Matt, but you’ve had enough opportunities, your time is at an end. I will gladly allow you to fill the role of mop-up duty long reliever, otherwise, adios. Homer and Daryl, you are both still young. Homer, you, in particular, have shown great promise and thus we will allow you to compete for the title of fifth starter nex year. Mr. Ramirez, you gave us a fine audition and your minor league stats are good. You will also be allowed to compete for the role of fifth starter. Last, we have Micah Owings who was acquired in the Adam Dunn trade. Owings has produced at the major league level before and we will also allow him to compete for the fifth starter job. If Bailey, Ramirez, Owings, or some combination of the three can come up with and ERA+ around 85 or higher, I will be a very happy man.

Okay, that takes care of the rotation, which, frankly, looks pretty good going into next year. No doubt, this is a recipe for disaster, as we all thought the Reds would be able to hit this year, and look how that went. Still, let’s try to stay optimistic and move on to the bullpen.

I don’t have much to say about the bullpen. Relief pitching is largely a crap shoot. Cordero is good. As are most of the supporting cast. I’d like to see Lincoln, Affeldt, and maybe Weathers resigned. Everybody else is still locked up. The bullpen should be at least okay next year (as it was this year) and should not approach the level of terrible it reached in 2007.

In closing, I feel good about the pitching situation for next year, I haven’t really been able to say this since, to quote John Fay, “Jose Rijo’s elbow was healthy.” Anyway, it’s been a long time. Tomorrow (or whenever I get to it), I’ll have an analysis of the lineup which will be, how can I say this, less optimistic. Until them, watch the playoffs.

So, last night, Cate and I went to the worst wedding I have ever been to. Really, there was nothing about it to like. So, here is a list of 10 things you should/should not do if YOU are planning to get married and care at all about the comfort of your guests. (Note: I realize Cate and I just got married. We tried our best with all of this stuff. If you did not enjoy our wedding, we apologize.) (Second Note: If you know about this blog and are my friend and I have been to your wedding, I almost certainly had a good time, please do not be offended. I would not give you access to this if I thought your wedding was unpleasant.)

10. Don’t ask your guests to help set up for the reception. This is not a barbecue. It is a wedding.

9. You do not need six bridesmaids and six groomsman. No one is that close to that many people.

8. Be reasonable with your ceremony. I do not need to watch your grandparents and his grandparents and his step grandparents and your parents and his parents and his step parents plod slowly down the aisle at 1/4 of a mile per hour. This is unnecessary.

7. No friend or family member should perform music at your wedding unless they have been booked for a show at least half a dozen times prior to this day. I don’t care how sweet that song Johnny wrote is. No one wants to spend five minutes pretending to enjoy fumbly acoustic guitar and nasaly singing. (Note: I’ll make an exception for anyone under the age of 12 as long as the performance is three minutes or less.)

6. No DJs. This is what iPods are for. With a DJ, you get bad jokes, generic love songs, and the chicken dance. With an iPod, you get music you actually like and picked out. The time of the DJ is over. The age of the iPod has begun. If you want to go classy and spring for a band or string quartet, that’s awesome, but no DJ, I beg you.

5. No compulsory receiving line. We like you or are related to you. Otherwise, we would not be here. However, that does not mean we want to wait half an hour to shake your hand and congratulate you or failing to scare the other person off before now. No one else does either. (If you really want to have one, okay, but either don’t invite 240 people, or don’t have a converstion with everyone who passes through the line.)

4. No special perks at the ceremony/reception for the bridal party. We just drove an hour and a half to get here. Then, we sat through your 45 minutes ceremony. Then, we stood in the receiving line for half an hour. You are lounging with fruit and a chocolate fountain while pictures are taken. We are sitting here with weak tea and shitty lemonade (seriously, how do you fuck up lemonade?). That is rude.

3. No bouquet/garter toss. One, this is sexist. Two, this makes every single person at the wedding uncomfortable. Three, it’s really creepy when some guy puts a garter on some girl’s leg he has never meet before. Especially if he’s in his 20s and she’s 14. This happens. Put a stop to it.

2. Enough with God. Not all of us are religious. In fact, some of us feel really uncomfortable when asked to pray every 3.7 seconds. But you are religious (or your parents are and they’re footing the bill or whatever), and that’s okay. So you know what, don’t invite me to the ceremony. Just tell me to come to the reception. It’s cool, I don’t mind, and I get to miss out on a whole bunch of awkward God shit that I don’t care about anyway. Now, if you really love Jesus and really want me at the ceremony, that’s cool, just keep it reasonable. Like, a minute or two. I won’t be super happy, but I can deal with that. (Note, our justice of the peace brought the God stuff of her own volition. We were totally blindsided and apologize to anyone else who thought that was gross. We certainly did.)

1. Don’t skimp on the food. I mean come on, how hard is this? You have 240 people there. I realize it is expensive to feed them. I’m not asking for fillet minion, but you should be able to do better than instant mashed potatoes and pot roast that smells like you left it in the sun for a day and a half. If you can’t afford to feed 240 people better than that, invite fewer people.

Things You Approve Of

September 18, 2008

This is inaugural. I do not know how frequently I will write. I would like to promise once a week or maybe an even more ambitious twice a week, but who am I kidding, I get preoccupied, and, well, I know myself. I’ll try and get something up at least once a month.

What can you expect to read about? Anything I care to write about. This will include (but, likely, will not be limited to) music, politics, baseball, Reds baseball, writing, graduate school, teaching, education in general, books, and minor tidbits about my life. Today, we are going to start with politics.

So, John McCain is a crazy old man. Sarah Palin is also crazy, but neither old nor a man. In any case, if you are going to vote for them, you should be aware of the things you are giving tacit approval to with your vote:

1. If a woman is raped and gets pregnant, she should be forced to have the child.

2. Creationism should be taught in schools. (Because, you know, creationism is science, just like evolution. [Seriously, this makes my blood boil. No doubt, there will be a long post on how stupid creationism is at some point in the future.])

3. It is okay for employers to pay women less than men, as long as they can hide it for a few months.

4. Giant, economic boondoggles that cost thousands for civilian lives are okee dokee.

5. The country is doing well. We are on the right path!

6. Healthcare is not too expensive. We should leave things the way they are.

7. People making $5,000,000 dollars a year are middle class.

8. Polar bears are not endangered. (Presumably, they are just good eatin’.)

9. It is okay to ban books if they offend your personal sensibilities. (Cause, you know, freedom of expression is not an important part of the Constitution or anything.)

So that’s it. No, it’s not a top ten. Yes, there are obivously more, but these are the thigns that popped into my head as I was writing this, so there they are. So… if you think all these things are okay, then, by all means, cast your vote for McCain-Pailn, and if enough Americans agree with you, well, I might start posting from Canada (or France, once I brush up [the food is better and the weather’s nice]).